tv Book Discussion on Washington Rules CSPAN July 26, 2014 4:00pm-4:56pm EDT
she had given copies of the book to her various friends for christmas gifts. it occurred to me this is the sort of thing that really auto ought to catch on with the reading public. i don't know how many friends and relatives you give gifts to for christmas day or kwanzaa or whatever, assuming there is 10 or 12 dozen intimate friends and if you would consider giving
them a copy of "washington rules," you will make the bookstore happy and the public publisher happy and make me happen. i'm hoping to tell you enough about the book that you will be interested in it without telling you too much to say let's go on to the next thing. in order to allow opportunity for questions and discussion because i really think that is the part that you like best. to tell you the truth, it is the part that i like best. we can go back and forth a little bit. i will talk not more than 15 or 18 minutes then we can use the balance of the hour for your questions. so let me hop into the formal part of the text.
everybody, it seems to me is talk about afghanistan these days. why are we in afghanistan? why were we in vietnam? two questions, in my judgment one,one answer. we are there today, we were there then because washington adheres to a national security consensus and an approach to national security policy consisting of two elements. the americanit is defined purpose and trinity defines practice. crado is a claim. it summons the united states and
most emphatically the united states alone to lead, save, liberate and ultimately transform the world. according to the sacred trinity which really describes the relationship of military power to that crado according to the sacred trinity, the minute minimal essentials of order requires the united states. again, we should emphasize emphatically the united states alone to first, maintain a global military presence. second to configure its armed forces not to defend the country but to provide instruments of global power projections. third, to marry the global
military presence with the global capabilities to support a pattern of global interventionism. togethercrado and trinity constitute the way that washington has attempted to govern and police but many people have called the american century. the trinity lends applausability to the crado's vast claims. crado justified the requirements and vast assertions. together, they define the rules to which washington adheres and hazard hered since the beginning of the cold war over 60 years ago.
they also determine the presteps in which washington attempts to rule. yet, there is a problem. the problem is the rules don't work. at least they don't work any longer. i myself, believe i can make the case that when the approach of national security policy was forged in the wake of world war ii they did a certain amount of sense. i think you can make a case in the early days of the cold war in the late 1940's to the early 1950's. it may have contributed to our security and contributed to our prosperity. the world that existed then has long since vanished and the
washington rules have proven to be counterproductive something since 9/11 made it increasingly appearance. promising safety and security, the washington rules are akin to permanent war. we need to recognize the significance of the fact that we live in a society in which the vast majority of us have come to accept war in essence a normal condition. promising to preserve the american way of life the washington rules have set the united states on a course toward bankruptcy. fiscal bankruptcy and at least as troubling moral bankruptcy. what should replace the washington rules?
in my view, we should replace the american crado with a new one reviving the conviction that america's primary purpose and obligation is to be america. fulfilling the aspirations expressed in our founding documents. not least among the aspirations the closing words of the preamble of the constitution of the united states, dedlairs purpose of the union is to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." i think the word in that expression that most demands our attention today is the word posterity. i would argue that securing the
blessings of lebbyty for ourselves in that regard much work remains to be done but to secure the blessings of liberty for our posser posterity that is an obligation that seems to me to be increasingly forgotten and abandoned. now, there are those who will hear the words that i have just spoken and say obviously, he is an isolationist whose only interest is turning their back on the world and raising the drawbridges and ignoring everybody else. not the case. i would argue however, to the extend that america has a mission to the world at large, the united states would be best served and the world would be best served if we fulfilled that
mission by serving as an exemplar rather than imposing values on people of iraq or afghanistan. or rather from veinly vainly attempting to propose it on people of iraq and affect. attempting to create a society based on humane values has something upon which others may draw in pursuing their own destiny. but even then, i would insist that if we could serve that we should not confuse side benefits with primary purpose. when it comes to the use of military power or thinking about military power, i think we need a new trinity.
in my preferred trinity would go something like this. first, we should define the primary duty station of the american soldier as america. the primary duty station, not the exclusive duty station. i can easily envision there will be times and places where our interests will require that we send american soldiers to some far off place to accomplish some purpose. but that is quite different from expecting that we have some kind of responsibility or obligation to garrison the planet, which has come to be our practice in recent decades. the second alternative to my trinity, would be one that would
design u.s. forces to defend the united states and to defend its most vital interests. this is a tricky phrase "vital interests." it is a trade that can be abused. it is a phrase of significant elasticity. many people would insist that we have an interest in the transformation of afghanistan for example. there are people who argue that we an interest in destroying the nuclear program of iran. some will say we'll have an interest in trying to pacify yemen. it opens the door for over militarized policy that i'm criticizing. i would interest for the phrase vital interest to be meaningful,
then a number of those interests has to be relatively limited. what i would hope that in a country in which genuine democratic politics prevailed there could be an argument about really qualified as vital and what fell outside the category of vital. outside of politics, some legitimate consensus could be reached as to what constituted vital interests. finally the third piece of my trinity would have to do with the phys of force. my argument would run like this. consistent with the just war tradition. the just war tradition chiefly developed by christian thinkers over several centuries. a tradition that provided us guidance and helped us think about when the use of force is
moral or not moral. we should employ force only as a last resort and in self-defense. even then, we should recognize that violence has limited utility as an instrument of state and the use of violence almost always gives rise to unintended consequences and exacts cause far in excess to those people anticipated from the outside. how likely is it that we will see any significant departure from the existing washington rules? my answer is alas not very. why not? two reasons the first reason has to do with washington itself. we need to appreciate the extent that the precystance persistence and
which it benefits washington, even if it doesn't benefit the american people. adherence to the washington rules delivers profit to the military industrial complex. it is useful for the institutions compromising the national security state, helping them to justify their prerogatives justify their budgets. adherence to the washington rules allows ambitious senior military officers to imagine they are occupying the cockpit in history and doing god's work. i think adherence to the washington rules even main stream journalism has embraced. nobody gets more excited about
the process prospect of sending american soldier's into harm's way than the main streamstream press. washington is deeply invested will be reluctant to prevent any departure from that consensus. there is a second reason, i think, one that gets closer to home that explains why the washington rules are likely to persist. that has to do with us. it seems to me that we the people have been too long conditioned to believe that any departure from the status quo leads directly to isolationism, disasterrism anddisaster, and chaos. there is no alternative to global projection and engaging in this pattern of interventionism.
we no longer in that sense have the ability to pose first order questions about national security policy or to put it another way we defer. we defer to washington also judgment. it seems to me this tendency to defer may in the end pose the greatest obstacle to restoring good sense to u.s. policy. with that introductory statement i will stop. i refer to any questions you may have. thank you. [applause] >> thank you so much for your work not only in this book but the prior book. >> i'm going to make a request of you all. please don't refer to me as colonel. [laughter]
i've been out of the army for 18 years. i was only in the army for 23 years and it makes me feel like i'm flying under false can colors. >> that is how they referred to you on military credential but i will take that advice i prefer it myself. i wanted to call attention to one of the brief exceptions to washington rules that occurred during the kennedy administration. in ted sorenson's book that came out two years ago. he pointed out that even though kennedy's inaugural address that we can bear any burden for liberty that his experience with relying upon what we might call the hawkish wing of the pentagon in the bay of pigs taught him a profound lesson. after that, sorenson said the policy became one of directed by
the president and not by the pentagon and one of patience, vigilance, and restraight. restraight. -- restraint. >> i don't agree with that i have to say. there are some things that president kennedy did very much deserve our great admiration and gratitude, chief among his cool headed management of the missile crisis of 1962. that said, the overall record, i think clearly is one of recklessness that suggests that whatever lessons kennedy was learning he was learning them a he could of a lot more slowly and tentatively and partially than kennedy apologist contend. we have to remember that the president's response to the bay of pig fiasco was to create
campaign of what we call state-sponsored terrorism that western under mon goose. this was dirty tricks and attempts of assassination that attempted to overthrow castro's revolution. we have to remember the president's policies towards south vietnam increases the number of u.s. advisers from 1,000 from when eisenhower left office to 17,000 by the time president kennedy was killed. perhaps most troubling, we have to remember that it was his administration that became complicit in the overthrow and by extension of the assassination of the president in south vietnam in october of
1963. the act that more than any other single act really pushed us down the path that would lead to the americanization of the war by lyndon johnson. so my own, i want to be fair to president kennedy, but my own sense is that the argument made by mr. sorenson and others that his experience in office led to this radical shift in his thinking simply doesn't tell the whole story. >> thank you for that. i just wonder then, if you think there is anything since world war ii in our history that would point toward an example of people who have broken the washington rules? >> well, i think -- i think worth considering here is kennedy's preed predecessor, dwight d.
eisenhower. there are two someone's record who is mixed. eisenhower went to meet st. peter, probably had to answer some pretty hard questions about for example the use of the c.i.a. in places like iran and guatemala. but the president performed a tremendous public service however belated. when in the eve of his departure from office he gave us as a gift his farewell address, which brought to our attention that the fact of during the course of his administration, he had for all practical purposes lost control of u.s. national security policy in fundamental ways. we all remember that speech to the extent that we remember it because that is where the phrase
military industrial complex was coined. when you go home tonight carrying your bush bushel basket of my book and when you get home and put the basket down, i want you to go to your computer or wherever and google the address. it takes 10 minutes to read it. notice the phrase, which i won't be able to quote from memory, which says that the necessary response to the dangers posed by the industrial complex is we must have an alert and knowledgeable citizenry. he said it is your job meaning it is our job to reign in this tendency if we are to have any chance of reconciling the
military power, which he believed we needed in the con of text of the cold war. with the potentially unintended power uncompromising our liberty. i think that troubles me most today and i'm in the camp that people say that says our policy for some time has been excessively militarized. once the deep seeded scepticism regarding military power has now basically been forgotten. we are not alert and knowledgeable citizenry. that too, makes us find ourselves in permanent war and don't know what to do about it.
>> i have two questions. they pertain to the view of the soldier themselves the soldiers themselves. the first one is, they kind of near or virtual mutiny that was occurring in the u.s. infantry at the end of the vietnam war and what the perspective on that may be as a kind of possible agent of change. if there is any analogues for that today. my second question is your own personal experience, i started reading your book and you cite at the fall of the berlin wall going into east germany and you mention what you saw there kind of shook your world view. i'm just curious, i would like to hear more about that. that is an example that you, yourself cite of a soldier that changes the whole internalized
paradigm. so the questions are two-fold. the first question is given the way the american military at the end of vietnam war came close to disintegrating, is there any analogue for that here in the ninth year of what used to be called the global war on terror? the second question, he was asking me to expand on personal reflections at the beginning of the book. question number one, that was the vietnam nam that that i served in. the army was disintegrating. terrible in discipline. probably the worst expression of
that is fragging. people trying to associate their leaders. there was widespread abuse of drugs. there was an unbelievable oment of tension between white soldiers and blacked soiers. it was a truly offer situation in which to be. i see no evidence, almost no evidence that anything like that is happening in today's military. there are reasons why citizens that we should have be having second thoughts about our embrace of a professional army and the abandonment of the concept of the soldier. the very fact that we find ourselves engaged in endless war
where is washington called the tune and citizens more or less feel that they have remarkably little say can be explained in part by the fact, that we have embraced what george washington would have called a standing army. but one thing we should not complain about with regard to the standing or professional army, is its durability. i, myself, am astonished to the extent of which this force subject to my mind to enormous abuse has held together. there is little evidence of the kind of in discipline that i witnessed 40 years ago. the one hint of an exception may well be the wikileaks accident
of two weeks ago now. where we did have a soldiers, allegedly, allegedly a p.f.c. in the ranks who leaked this mass of classified information clearly with the intent, i imagine with the intent to try to support for the afghanistan war. where we can see a pattern of that kind of action and behavior coming from the ranks then that might begin to suggest that this internal disintegrate has begun in the current force. to my knowledge, we're not seeing any kind of a pattern of incidents. with regard to the second question the question that i was referring to the fact that i
was serving in germany when the berlin wall went down and i had my family -- my family and i spent a number of years serving in germany. after the wall went down i wanted to go to berlin. i want to see berlin. i want to see berlin before berlin was changed. in a particular sense, i wanted to go to the brandonburg gate. for many of you who are more or less my gate, the brandon brandonburg gate continues to be a great symbol of that time. a symbol of the cold war. i wanted to go there. i wanted to see it. it was winter. it was late at night. it was cold. it was rainy. we ended up in a station in what
had been east berlin. i insisted to my family, i hope they had forgiven me that we walk up this long road in what had been east per listen and approached the gate from the east side. we got there. what we found was huddled among the pillars several young men dressed in civilian clothes but obviously not german. they were hawking bits and pieces of russian unforms and other military memorabilia pins, button hats. i bought a wristwatch, big clunky metal band with if face of the symbol of the soviet
tampingtankcore and it broke within two weeks. what struck me about the stuff that was being sold -- well, two things struck me. first of all was the aspect of these young men who were off duty russian soldier. the second thing that struck me was all junk. it was cheap. it was crap. this impression was at odds with the impression i had developed of the other over the course of many years this other that is now only actually temp come bent for the first time. it was not as a scale fall off my eyes and everything looked
different moment. it was not that at all. it with was a moment where certain seeds of doubt were planned. there was a disconnect between what i had expected to find and what i found. i think over time, particularly as a result of observing other events and developments, not least of all actions by the united states with regard to its own foreign policy those seeds grew. in some respect what the book tries to do is to share, if that is not too present issues pretensionous of a term over the last 20 years of rethinking what i thought i knew
then. >> good evening. >> good evening. >> can you hear ok? >> i'm an internal major in college. >> what school do you go? >> southern california. >> one of the five colleges. i was out there a year and a half giving a talk. totally gorgeous place. i imagine nobody goes to class. is that true? >> no, we're -- i go to class. one of the sort of they are theoretical models that we have looked at is a bureaucratic or institutional model. how bureaucracies take on their own life and how you were talking about it earlier like how some of the washington rules made some sense right after the
end of world war ii but now partially due to bureaucracies getting entrenched and stuff like that it is old and not relevant anymore. you answered in one of the questions that a lot of the burden falls on us as citizens. well, one thing in the limits of power, which i have read for a couple of classes, is you talk as you did tonight the draft and the citizen soldier versus the professional army. >> people in the back rows are getting jittery. >> at the end of of the book you say bringing back the citizen soldier or the draft is kind of impossible or verily unlikely. i'm wondering what other -- what are some other specific things that we as citizens can do to sort of pressure this massive bureaucracyic momentum that is
so huge? >> the question reduces to this, if citizens don't have any stay in how policy is made how can they acquire some say? is that fair? and indeed, i think -- it fascinates me a lot and i'm serious, every talk i give whether it is a book talk or some other related thing. every talk i give the conscription question comes up. what is interesting about that is that it does suggest at least to me as i travel around to talk to groups like this one, that this idea really does acquire a currency. perhaps means it ought to be
taken seriously. my scepticism about the draft sceptdism about reinstituting the draft or recreating the tradition of the citizen soldier as a way to close the grab between military and society and give society how the military gets employed, it still seems to me politically it is not going sell. i'm looking at the crowd and i'm guessing that at age 63 i probably am close to the mean of the age of you. that is who comes to these sorts of events, those of us who are 63 65, or 61. to put it mildly, we are all passed the draft age.
i know for a fact that boston university the 19-year-olds are not keen to renew cub subscription. i don't know if the parents are not keen to renew it. it is very much a fact that the senior military leadership which opposed the abolition of the draft back in the end of the vietnam period is today completely committed to the all-professional model. so it is small groups of us, i think bothered by this sense of powerlessness who think possibly the depth of the solution. i'm not seeing it happen. let me offer another approach to solving the problem albeit
frankly, it is one that is equally implausible. if the idea says we'll fix the problem if a greater percentage of the people are called upon to serve in sacrifice. rather than this utterly immoral situation that we have now where all of the service and sacrifice is imposed upon 5% 0.5% of the population. i think another approach is to say, another way to get at it is to recognize is we don't all serve in sacrifice. we also don't pay for the wars. one of the most cynical things that the george w. bush administration did in committing the country called a global war
on terror. when the bush administration did that the bush administration understood and said that the global war on terror was going to go on for a long, long time. one of the single things they did was cut our taxes and basically said from their point of view, this military enterprise is tremendously important. nothing should get in the way of supporting it and funding it. on the other hand, none of us who pay taxes have any responsibility for defraying the cost of the enterprise. instead, what we are doing and you know this is true, we are imposing those costs on to take the phrasing from the preamble on posterity which will some day curse us for that.
when they awaken to the predicament on which we have put them. so, another way to fix the problem is, pay for the wars. raise our taxes or for us older ones, that includes me, debit our social security payments by a few thousand dollars every weir. the higher taxes and the reduced benefits will very quickly get the american people engaged and enraged in ways that would limit the freedom of action of the government. but, of course, who is the statesman? who is the leader in washington d.c. who is going to stand up and say that the current arrangement is wrong unacceptable and must be
changed? well, the woman said that and that is right and that makes the point. in the presidential campaign of 2008, we had two different candidates who stood outside the washington rules. on the left was kasinich and on the right was ron paul. they were treated like they were not taken seriously. they were marginalized. i think their fate testifies to the risks involved of anybody who wants to achieve high office of not conforming. yes, sir?
>> you've been a critic of the establishment policy in the military area. there are other critics like yourself who were once part of the establishment. paul craig roberts from the treasure department, johnson ray mcgovern from intelligence. do you find yourself in a community of critics with these people? do you find it ironic that you are too be marginalized in a way? >> the question is do i find mioses part of a community of like-minded critics? do i feel like i'm being marginalized? i don't think i'm important enough to be mar gallized. i never got off the margins. you know what, i'm serious. i am so grateful.
i'm not grateful to be sleeping in this marriott hotel that i slept in for the last 10 days. i'm very grateful that i have the opportunity to teach young people to write books and articles to travel around and talk to you. i don't kid myself that it has any particular influence but it is tremendously gratifying to have this ton. i don't view myself as part of a community i'm aware of. i think everybody you mentioned except bruce fine. i understand what they do. i kind of do my own thing and willing to let doing my own thing suffice. >> would you address the push
for more aggressive action towards iran based on unsubstantiateed? >> do you have an opinion about this ma'am? >> could you also address our support of israel no matter what they do and how that affects national security? >> it is the iran question and the israel question, just so you -- right? iran question and the israel question. the iran question. the two are not unrelated. so let's go ahead and bring them together. i'm an american catholic. once a talk, i try to say something about catholicism because, as many of you know, even if it may annoy you the
catholic church really believes that sooner or later everyone is going to come to rome. this is my little gesture of evan gallization. i'm an american catholic. forget the catholic part. as an american i don't view iran posing a threat to the united states of america. i don't know if there is a nuclear program aiming to create a weapon. where i, the national security adviser of the iranian government i would urge that we acquire a nuclear weapon. from an iranian perspective iran poses some significant threats, not least of all given the history of u.s.-iranian
relations. if you can get away with the acquisition of the nuclear weapon suddenly you get treated differently. look at pakistan. look at north korea. i don't view the iranian nuclear program as it exists as a threat to the united states or believe that were they to acquire a nuclear weapon we could deter them. i believe ultimately, the iranian government would act rationally and not trade the existence of the iranian people not try to destroy israel. were i an iranian jew i might
not have the same perspective. if i were jewish and have the history of judaism and everything it entailed, not least of all the holocaust and if i were israeli and had a lively appreciation of the antagonisms that had been in gendered in the creation of israel in 1948 regardless where you want to put the blame. there is lots of antagonism. where i an israeli jew, i'm not sure if i would not view an iranian bomb as a threat. i'm not sure i would be confident in israel's ability to deter iran. despite the fact, as you know and the world know, even though the israeli government won't acknowledge it, they have a potent nuclear capability of their own. here it seems to me is where you
get to the nexus of the problem. that is israeli interest and american interests with regard to iran and, i believe with regard to any number of other issue, not at least the question of the palestinians have begun to diverge. we are reluctant to acknowledge that divergence for all kinds of reasons. some of them i think attributable to the per served power of the lobby in the united states. some of them also, i think perhaps related to a concern of what would be the implications of allowing israel to feel that once again the jews are up being
abandoned. what pattern of behavior on the part of israel be produced of a sense of abandonment. so if i could tell you here's the five-point program that will bring peace to the middle east and guarantee the security of israel at the same time, i wouldn't be on the margins. [laughter] i would be a famous guy. that five-point program does not exist. the only thing i have to offer is i think it is time for us to fess up to the fact that there is this divergence of interest. only if we acknowledge that fact it becomes possibly to address
it. if we persist in the kind of rhetoric that says, you know, we will be israel's friend forever. our interest is their interest. we're all engaged in the constant struggle against terrorism. i think that allows very real and dangerous problems to fester. >> ladies and gentlemen, we have one more question but before that, i want to thank everyone for coming. thank c-span and please get your book signed after the event. >> he got one more question so don't clap yet, unless you're clapping for him, which is ok. >> how do you respond to robert gate's charge that wikileaks has blood on its hands and is a threat to national security? >> i think that -- let's stipulate for the sake of the argument that they did the
leaking. for the sake of argument we'll say he did. it is wrong it is rep reprehensible reprehensible. if we're going to have a military, we have to have a military in which good order and discipline prevailed. it has to be a military in which soldiers do not take it upon themselves to try to undermine the policy of the commander in chief. that is a direct assault on civilian control. that is what the wikileaks attended to do on the one hand. on the other hand, let us recall one year ago just about exactly one year ago when president obama was in the throes of this long drawn out on trying to figure out what he wanted to do in afghanistan. wellwell before decision was decided
there was a leak. it hijacked the entire policy process. it handcuffed the president. what i would say is if what p.f.c. manning allegedly did was wrong then whoever leaked the report did a much more serious wrong. basically, gave to al qaeda and the taliban a detailed explanation of what u.s. strategy was going to be. i don't remember the secretary of defense or other people that summer getting all hot and bothered about the leak. i think that was a far more egregious assault on civilian control on the military. thanks very much. i really enjoyed this.
[applause] >> on history bookshelf hear from the well known writers every saturday at 4:00 p.m. eastern. visit our website to watch these program any time. you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. >> coming up, arrest they author and professor john mcmanus talks about the aftermaghtd of the d-day invasion. he talks about the difficult terrain and the town surrounding the beaches. this hour-long event was part of the world war ii museum commemoration of the anniversary of d-day in june. >> the focus today is post